Willy Lam: China’s New Security State
In the Wall Street Journal, Willy Lam reports that, “On December 2, senior state-security personnel met in Tianjin to fine-tune a new nationwide antisubversion network to help safeguard the Chinese Communist Party’s ruling status.” He goes on to describe this network:
In the words of State Security Minister Geng Huichang, the new effort aims to “win the ‘people’s warfare’ in safeguarding national security and ensuring socio-political stability under new conditions.” Big and medium-sized cities are setting up state security “leading groups” which will be headed by municipal Party secretaries. These leading groups set the agenda for police and security departments, and ensure that enough vigilantes and voluntary informants can be recruited from the populace. They can also ask other government units to contribute funds and resources to help maintain overall stability.
Smaller cities and county-level administrations are also setting up new big-brother units to ensure stability, called Offices to Maintain Social Stability and to Rectify Law and Order. In rich coastal cities, such outfits are being set up in every district and major street. According to a government circular, these groups are charged with ferreting out “anti-CCP elements” and “snuffing all destabilizing forces in the bud.” The circular called upon these offices to “get a firm grip on the activities of hostile forces within and outside China,” specifically fingering foreign NGOs and religious organizations as potential sources of subversion and sabotage.
The social stability offices also have a mandate to “prevent hostile elements from fomenting chaos by inflaming hot-button issues” in Chinese society. They are empowered to coordinate the efforts of the police, state-security agents, and People’s Armed Police officers to combat “anti-government forces”—and to recruit vigilantes and voluntary informants within their jurisdiction.